MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “lockdown”

Pull up a chair

© Dale Rogerson

The best thing about having a yard (or a balcony) is that you can go outside and watch the world go by, without actually needing to socialise with anyone.

It helped during those unprecedented lockdowns. And it certainly serves this very purpose when you’re caught in a loop of not really wanting to see or talk to anyone, but want to be outside.

Snowy days are the best for this.

It’s too dangerous to slip and break, and thus it’s recommended to not go outside.

So pull up a chair, lay back, relax, and just observe life as it happens.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Signs of life

©Brenda Cox

Things have changed. For everyone. But why does it all seem so depressing?

They were walking through the deserted streets. There was no sign of life. Actually, there was no evidence of activity of any sort. And that was the most saddening of all.

Are you still alive if you don’t showcase it? Are you still living if you show no signs of what you’re doing to anyone?

What makes a life? What you do; what you get out of it; or how it makes you feel?

Communicate regardless. Someone thinks you’re more special than you give yourself credit for.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

The lives we don’t see

©Dale Rogerson

No person has the same fingerprints or iris identifications. There is a reason for it. Each person is unique.

Consequently, each person is living a life that is often unbeknown to most; and is essentially very different to what appearances may suggest. Each is juggling their own life lemons, trying to get the most out of them.

Some medics, for example, work more hours than they even remember for a pay that is lower than a private parking meter.

Similarly, musicians are those starving artists keeping us company in the months-long lockdowns during a pandemic – one which medics are fighting.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

A time forlorn

Remember how we used to look forward to our evenings and weekends to dress up, go out, meet people and have fun?

Well, hardly anyone does now either.

After almost an entire year in on-and-off lockdowns due to Covid-19, the simple pleasures of entertainment, of mingling, of even meeting someone new seem so far away.

We are now so suspicious about everyone we meet, we’ve become too uptight, too OCD-ed, and too closed up to even give someone a chance. But the thing is, no one dares take it anymore.

For single people, dating has become something that belongs to a distant past or, at best, to a hopeful future.

Dating apps have seen an increase lately with all the more people registering, hoping to “swipe right” and find a match.

But is there even a point now?

This interesting article explores how various single people have experienced online dating during this strange period. All share the same frustration of not being able to go out and meet people. Some enjoy being alone, getting to know themselves better instead and do things that fulfil them without having to think about pleasing someone else.

Others believe that if you can’t feel the sensation of being a little tipsy and flirtatiously touching someone’s arm, then there’s absolutely no point in courting a screen. For some, steamy messages are an outlet to vent the caged annoyance of all that is going on, but they caution that everyone is bored during a quarantine and nothing will last when all this is over.

Yet, others find that you might meet someone with whom you can talk deeply for hours without the physical distractions of the outside world. As such, you may even get to know each other better, and eventually feel as if you’ve spent a lifetime together.

Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to meet your match on an app. All it takes is the courage / desire to meet in person afterwards too. You never know who you’ll meet, where and when. Life is unpredictable like that.

But the real question is whether dating apps are actually worth it. Isn’t there something more constructive/useful/fulfilling to spend your time with? Wouldn’t you like to connect more with the people who are in your life even during this awkward time?

People have different needs and different ways of searching to fulfil them. But in essence what matters most is what makes each person feel good with themselves first and foremost.

Being where you are

In a culture of constant consumerism, incessant competition, and individualism, the paradox of social distancing has depreciated even the most common-sense norms of cultural etiquette.

We are now dubious and suspicious of everyone and anyone, as they could be a potential virus-carrier or transmitter. We have become even more isolated in our homes, opening our door only to those we know well and failing to make any new acquaintances.

We have a routine that, albeit different to the one we used to have several months ago, is still something that keeps our life somewhat normal.

Yet, the entire way that our lives have changed this year has highlighted the fact that in essence very few people are happy and/or satisfied with the life they have.

Self-isolation, quarantine and lockdown has raised the curtain to everything we hid under the carpet and failed to acknowledge for so long. It has lifted the veil from our eyes and cleared our vision on the relationships we have, the people we surround ourselves with, but most importantly, who we truly are.

It has also exacerbated our sense of longing to be somewhere else – anywhere else – than our current location. Removing someone the choice of doing something, automatically makes that option desirable and spurs a reaction.

But the honest truth is this: No-one wants to live where they are. Everyone wants to live in a fantasy.

But the fact that even our futures no longer seem certain, let alone, controllable, makes even that fantasy world appear bleak.

The trick is to create your own circumstances, realising your fantasy by exploiting where you are at each precise moment.

Not easy, but very possibly worth it.  

Making habits that will make us

There is a widely acknowledged rule that it takes 21 days to create a habit and three times that – 90 days – for it to become a lifestyle.

It might sound a lot. But think about it. 21 days is three weeks. Three weeks is less than one month. In 2020 we’ve been in lockdown twice for this period of time. We could (have) easily chang(ed) habits.

The first thing any decent self-help book or life coach tells you is to think positively and control your breathing.

Both aren’t as easy as they seem. And it is irritating that people usually tell you the exact opposite of what you’re able to do at the given time you seek help – “calm down” when your agitated, “be patient” when you’re not, “don’t worry” when you’re sweating with anxiety.

But the truth is, if you manage to reduce your heart rate – if you inhale for four seconds, hold that breath for just as long, and then slowly exhale again – you will feel that you’ve oxygenated your lungs enough to relax and actually feel somewhat calmer.

Fix your body posture. That always helps and gives you a regal feeling. And everyone likes to feel royal.

Just think about how many things you can change in 21 days, and how easily those can become part of your daily routine.

Train yourself to get up early; to have a schedule for the day; to exercise at least half an hour; to walk as much; to smile more; to organise your priorities; to cook your meals assuring a healthy diet; to hydrate as much as possible; to take care of yourself; to do something you enjoy and makes you happy; to talk to someone (not online chats, but actual voice calls); to think positively believing that something wonderful is always about to happen; to allow yourself to relax every so often; to be grateful for all you have because someone else is always worse off and is having a much more difficult time; and above all, to breathe.

We can change our entire way of living in three weeks. But the benefits may last our entire lives. Isn’t that worth at least trying?

Reprogramming a lifestyle

You know why we refuse to accept something we cannot control? Because we can’t handle uncertainty. We are not wired to ‘go with the flow’ and let things happen. People are impatient. And insecure. We need to know that there is a beginning, a middle and an end to things. Otherwise, we go insane.

This year has been strange and extraordinary in every sense and at every level. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a serious strain not only on global healthcare systems, but on our mental health as well.

People can’t handle so many restrictions and so many recurring constraints.

But most of all, they can’t accept being told what to do, or rather, what not to do.

We can’t breathe with masks on because we’re told we need them. We feel we’re being deprived of oxygen because that is what our mind is telling us.

In every lockdown, we remember the need to go outside, to walk, run, cycle, swim, and sit in the park under the sun. Yet, during our ‘normal’ lives we may hardly even go out onto the balcony for some fresh air, spending the entire day in front of a screen at a an office.

And now, that screen is our way of communicating with the world.

Ironic. Tragic. Call it what you will. But this new reality has caused an irrevocable change to what we consider ‘normal’.  And the things we consider as a given or as common sense.

The world has hit pause and forced us to reconsider everything we considered ‘ordinary’. We need to reprogramme our entire lifestyle and way of thinking, working and living at whatever life stage we currently find ourselves.

The worse thing about the recurring and long-drawn lockdowns is that we’re challenging our own minds, the limits of our sanity, the strength of our beliefs, and the potency of our optimism. The entire situation places us in the unwanted position of not knowing whether to make plans or what these can entail because we very simply do not know and cannot tell what tomorrow may bring.

Uncertainty is the root of our discomfort.  

But no matter how much we resist, complain, moan and react, there are some things that are beyond our control. A global pandemic is among them.

So if you had to answer the question “if you could be anywhere in the world, where would that be?”, what would you say?

Some would answer the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights; others at the top of Mount Everest, at the Caribbean, at a fancy resort, at your beach house, a mountain chalet, somewhere no one has been to before, anywhere you cannot be at this very moment, somewhere different to where you are.

But the truth is, the answer is not a destination. Because in pondering your reply, it’s who you want to be with that springs to mind. As you grow older, you realise it’s not really the place that matters, but the moments and people you spend them with.

In essence, everything we need is here – within us – we just haven’t acknowledged it enough so as not to worry about what is beyond our needs and control.

It’s not the place or circumstances that need to change. It is our entire lifestyle and mentality.

The hardest part of being away

©Todd Foltz

The hardest part of being forcibly away is not being able to hug you and receive back that warm heartbeat vibration.

The hardest part of being forced to be apart for so long is not being able to join our laughter in chorus in all our inside jokes; in all the things only we find funny.

Forced to be at a distance, we’re never really apart, and you know that.

I can feel you, just like you can sense me. Every mood and every thought resonates within each other.

I would still prefer not to be so many miles away.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

When we say we’re fine

https://www.must.com.cy/assets/modules/wnp/articles/202004/71649/images/b_tourismos_1.jpg

When people ask each other “how are you?”, the response is a reflex answer of “fine, and you?”. Rarely does the question delve deeper into how the other person actually is. We ask about our news, our novelties, our gossip, work, relationships etc, but hardly does anyone actually look into how we really are; how we feel, in what mental state we are in.

This year (2020) has been hard. Almost six months have passed, and we have but a few days in which things actually progressed and we have something to show for them. Otherwise, all we have done is stayed at home, explored our neighbourhoods, developed our cooking skills, irritated the people we live with, become depressed at being alone, and wasted an obscene amount of time on Netflix and social media.

Undeniably, even doing a bare minimum – or absolutely nothing – takes a toll on our mental health. We tell each other we’re fine to believe it is true. Because if we don’t overanalyze, we won’t have to admit to ourselves that deep down we are not as great as we want to appear. We are lacking security, the freedom of movement, the capacity to make plans again, having something to look forward to, the prospect that we will get to see our loved ones again soon in a scheduled time and date without the fear of risking a new lockdown or quarantine measures being imposed on you.

We’re only as fine as we believe ourselves to be. Yet, we prefer not to talk about what is bugging us in an attempt to override it. It’s like sweeping the dust under the carpet. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Mood swings and mental breakdowns don’t necessarily need professional help to be overcome or healed. Sometimes all we really need is people around us who care enough to offer the help we don’t dare to ask for. It’s enough to know that there are friends and family there who can offer a hug, a random talk when needed, and a simple confirmation that we’re not facing things alone. Because in the end, what we all need is the sentiment that better days are coming no matter what, and the incentive to garner the patience to deal with it all.

The value of a lockdown

©MCD

So we’ve spent perhaps one of the strangest Easters of our time. But we managed to celebrate it as much as possible, with people who are far yet near with the aid of technology, with love and wishes that know no borders, and with optimism and positive vibes that everything will pass and we will meet again soon.

The truth is that if you’re not in hospital, if you’re not sick, if you’re “stuck” at home with your family, if you even have a home, if you’re not entirely alone in a house away from your loved ones, this Easter in quarantine was not your worst Easter. In fact, it may even be your most memorable one. Because it taught you lessons you so far failed to see.

How to spend time with the people you share your home and life with; who matters and who cares enough to be around even if they can’t see you in person; the importance of exchanging wishes and words of encouragement even if no physical interaction may be involved. But most importantly, it revealed the reinvigoration of going outside for fresh air, for a walk in the park, or around your neighbourhood – parts of which you just recently discovered. How to spend time slowly, relishing every moment of it, to pause, to breathe, to enjoy things that we missed or didn’t have time for.

The lockdown is actually forcing us to slow down our pace of life and in the process to actually live our life.

And as we relax, inhaling the cleaner air around, we wonder why we haven’t lived like this for so long. Why this wasn’t the normal we are all longing to return to.

There will come a time when we will reminisce the weeks we were forced to stay home, learning to value the time we have and appreciating the small things that we miss, despite our constant moaning about our confinement.

Wouldn’t it be great if we would have learnt something out of all this and changed some of our habits?

“In the rush to return back to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” – Dave Hollis

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